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Retro Treasures: Remembering Future Cop: LAPD

Future Cop LAPD
Image: Future Cop LAPD/EA Games, courtesy of Altar of Gaming

Do you remember Future Cop: LAPD?  It was a third-person shooter published and developed by EA’s Redwood Shores and released first for the PlayStation, then Mac OS and Windows way back in 1998.  

Set in the year 2098, players would take control of the  X1-Alpha, a mecha with a startling resemblance to RoboCop’s ED-209, and take the fight to the streets of Los Angeles in the ongoing “Crime War”. That’s about as much context as you got back then — and to be fair it was all you needed. It was a simpler time. 

Future Cop: LAPD very much felt like an 80s blockbuster with over-the-top action, outlandish villains and a sense of charm with moments of tongue-in-cheek humour. X1-Alpha would plough through hordes of criminals who were armed to the teeth, only to fall off a ledge to a cacophony of comedic clangs. Or, as Hollywood Boulevard burns around it, X1 would take a moment to stomp his footprint into the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  

This juxtaposition of slaughter and slapstick made it such a memorable game for me some 20 years ago, right up there with Resident Evil, Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid. It wasn’t as sophisticated, nuanced, or as imaginative as those titles, but it was never meant to be. Future Cop’s appeal was similar to that of the action films it mimicked: it was simple, fun, and endlessly re-playable.  

Future Cop: LAPD Gameplay 

Future Cop: LAPD had two modes: Crime War and Precinct Assault, both of which could be played solo or couch co-op. The PC version also allowed for online play, technically making this the one of the first multiplayer online battle arena games, pre-dating StarCraft and Warcraft’s DotA by a few years.  

Crime War: The game’s story mode had players patrolling Los Angeles across Griffith Park, Venice Beach, LAX and Long Beach, to take down threats to peace ranging from street gangs, cyborgs, rogue police and a malfunctioning Artificial Intelligence. 

X1-Alpha had plenty of weapons you could chop and change to suit your playstyle, including miniguns, flamethrowers and rocket launchers.  Not only that, but you could transform into a hovering car to speed your way out of trouble, or simply mow down enemies to save on ammo.  

Precinct Assault: Precinct Assault was part tower defence, part capture the flag, and seemed a little ahead of its time. Players would need to defend their base, capture automated turrets and outposts and build their army of tanks to help them in their cause against the AI opponent “Sky Captain”. 

Sky Captain was a “superplane” whose sonorous and imposing voice made the mode so memorable. He would taunt you as he gained the upper hand and hurl insults as you fought back. And every time you killed him, the line “I live again!” never failed to put you on edge. The only way to properly win was to capture the base. That line would get heard a lot.  

Outnumbered, Outgunned 

It sounds great, right? So why did Future Cop: LAPD fail to catch the attention of the mainstream? Originally intended as the next installment of the Strike series, development on that game was cancelled and recycled into what became Future Cop. A lot of its core mechanics were still there, and the game was somewhat of a spiritual sequel.  

But the game faded into obscurity pretty fast, and while there were no sales figures available, that in itself is a telltale sign that it likely didn’t meet expectations. It never got a sequel; there was never even a hint of one.  

It’s not surprising when you look at what the game was up against. It was released in autumn 1998 and went up against the likes of Metal Gear Solid, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Baldur’s Gate and Street Fighter Alpha 3 to name but a few. All these games received wild critical acclaim — and sold plenty too. There’s also N64 classic GoldenEye 007 which, despite releasing in 1997, remained in the top 10 best-selling games throughout 1998.

The odds were stacked against Future Cop: LAPD from the start. Would it be remembered better if released in a quieter window? Maybe, but it still carved itself a cult following, and even now still gets the odd mention on YouTube. 

Revival? 

Despite its cult following, it’s unlikely those devoted fans will ever see a remaster of Future Cop: LAPD. Why? It’s not featured on any digital storefront for years, which is usually an indication of issues with the rights to its intellectual property.  

Redwood became Visceral Games (the studio behind Dead Space) and with them folding back in 2017, it’s not clear who owns the rights. And with very few people talking about it, whoever does hold the keys to the dystopian Los Angeles kingdom isn’t going to be in any rush to act on it.  

However, it’s not all bad news: there is a glimmer of hope out there still. 

In 2016, Chris Crowell, the lead level designer on Future Cop took to YouTube to talk about the game. While mentioning that he was pleased with what they made and that it was inspiring to see positive comments about it, he also stated that it was “sad that EA didn’t know what to do with it.” He also talked about a possible sequel through Kickstarter, going as far as to throw out a title: Future Cop: NYPD. 

Not only that, but someone out there appears to have taken matters into their own hands.  

L.A.P.D 2195
A screenshot of L.A.P.D 2195, in development by Apeirogon Games

Listed on Steam is L.A.P.D. 2195 from Apeirogon Games, which is described as “a modern re-imagining of the classic game Future Cop L.A.P.D.”.

This spiritual successor appears to be in very early development, with screenshots and short clips of an alpha build on its page. The core details were added to Steam in February 2022, according to SteamDB, with very few meaningful updates being added since. However, Apeirogon Games’ website has more recent updates, and suggests that work on L.A.P.D. 2195 is still very much ongoing. The last update, published in January 2024, suggests a playable alpha build may be ready at some point this year.

Bring it in X-1, time to punch out. You did a fine day’s work.  

Danny grew up on a diet of Resident Evil, Half-Life and Halo. Nowadays, in between life as a freelance writer, author, parent and dog owner, he’ll try anything, but has a penchant for all things FromSoftware – and won’t hesitate to tell anyone about how Sekiro is the greatest game he’s ever played.